GET STARTED: Assess
Before you put out a call for help, determine how prepared you are to integrate encore employees or volunteers. A welcoming culture, clear definition of roles and responsibilities and targeted actions help to embed encore talent into an organization’s structure and goals.
Assess your Culture
Organizations that invest in encore-attuned culture and work structure are most likely to be successful, according to a 2010 National Council on Aging report. The report, The Boomer Solution – Skilled Talent to Meet Nonprofit Needs (NCOA ©2010), identifies these cultural success factors:
- View older adults as resources and assets.
- Understand priorities of older adults.
- Nurture open communication and learning.
- Facilitate new relationships between staff and skilled volunteers.
- Offer encore talent autonomy with accountability.
- Accept that there will be a learning curve with managing change.
Consider Different Roles
Encore talent can help you build capacity, adding to the bench strength of organizations as employees and filling gaps in knowledge and expertise as consultants. Volunteers can be deployed broadly, from service delivery to board appointments, and everything in between. A successful plan to use encore talent can mean bringing in one person on a time-limited project, recruiting a corps of encore talent on an ongoing basis or executing a carefully constructed plan to maximize the use of volunteers.
Thank you to Aspiranet for this model.
Identify Priorities and Gaps
Look around your organization: What are your priorities? What are your goals and opportunities? Where are gaps in your knowledge, skills and abilities? Decide on work priorities by:
- Consulting your to-do list. Think about tasks that never seem to get done. Which are potentially most helpful to your organization? Is there something you could hand off as a project? Addressing a specific task and goal is a great way to get started.
- Asking around. Talk with colleagues, leaders, current volunteers, clients and your board. What projects or initiatives would make a difference? Where do existing resources fall short? What skills are most needed? Who could use a hand on a time-limited project?
Consider a Pilot
A pilot program allows you to start small, experiment and build on success. Investment and risk are minimized, allowing room to test and adapt approaches. With a pilot, you start with team members open to innovation. Boomer Volunteer Engagement describes the merits of a pilot approach:
- Establishes a learning organization, allowing incremental adjustments.
- Leverages your champions – those open to innovation.
- Creates internal visibility.
- Uncovers and enhances replicable practices.
- Stimulates momentum.
Resources to answer the key question: Is your organization ready for encore talent?
- Organizational Readiness Assessment: Find out if your organization is ready to leverage encore talent.
- Organizational Readiness Consultant Role Description: Think about bringing in an encore-stage consultant to help you assess and plan.
Is your specific project or role ready for encore talent? Two resources to help you define a project from start to finish: